Dutch colonial council minutes, 10 March 1648

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Ordinance regulating taverns in New Amsterdam ] [i]

Petrus Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, Curacao, etc., and the honorable council,

To all those who shall see these presents or hear them read, Greeting.

Whereas we see and experience that our former edict enacted against unseasonable drinking to excess, both at night and on the Sabbath of the Lord, to the scandal and shame of ourselves and our nation, is not observed and obeyed according to our intent and meaning, we hereby renew the same and do ordain and enact, that it shall henceforth be maintained and executed in stricter observance and enforcement pursuant to the tenor and provisions therein set forth.

Meanwhile, the reason and cause why this our good edict and well meant ordinance is not obeyed according to the tenor and purport thereof are, that this sort of business and the profit easily accruing therefrom divert and lead many from their original and primitive calling, occupation and business to resort to tavern-keeping, so that nearly the just fourth of the city of New Amsterdam consists of brandy shops, tobacco or beer houses, by the multitude whereof not only are more honorable trades and occupations neglected and disregarded, but even the common people and the Company's servants seriously debauched; and what is still worse, the youth, seeing and following, as from their very childhood, this improper example of their parents, are drawn from the path of virtue and into all sorts of irregularity. Hence, also, proceed cheating, smuggling, and frauds and the clandestine sale of beer and brandy to the Indians and natives, as daily experience, God help us! shows, from which nothing but new difficulties between us and them are to be apprehended; and, moreover, decent taverns established and licensed for the use and accomodations of travelers, strangers and inhabitants which honorably and honestly pay their taxes and excise and own or lease suitable houses, sitting under heavier expenses, are seriously injured in their licensed and lawful business by these clandestine groggeries.. Being willing to provide therein according to the exigency of the case, the circumstances of the time and our ability, therefore we, the director general and council aforesaid, on the subject of the tapsters and tavern-keepers do ordain and enact the following regulation and ordinance;


First, henceforward no new ale-houses, taverns, nor tippling places shall be opened or set up, except with the previous special knowledge and consent of the director and council unanimously granted and expressed.


Taverns, ale-houses and tippling places already established may continue for at least four years more, but in the meantime they remain bound and obliged to provide themselves like other honest trades In this place with proper and respectable burgher dwelling houses for the embellishment and improvement of this city of New Amsterdam, each according to his station, quality and circumstances, pursuant to the ordinance and regulation for buildings made by the director and council, with the knowledge and advice of the city surveyors.


Tavernkeepers and tapsters who for certain reasons are allowed to continue this business for at least four years more may change their trade, but may not transfer to others their business of tapping or selling liquor, nor hire or sell their houses and dwellings to any one else for that purpose, unless with the previous knowledge and full consent and permission of the director and council.


Item. Tavernkeepers and tapsters henceforward shall not sell, barter or tap to the Indians or natives any beer, wine, brandy or spirituous liquors, nor provide the natives therewith in the first, second or third hand, on pain of forfeiting their business and of arbitrary correction at the discretion of the judge.


Item. To prevent all fighting and mischief they shall be obliged to notify the officer immediately in case any one be wounded or hurt at their house, on pain of forfeiting their business and one pound Flemish for every hour that the matter is concealed by the tapster or taverakeeper after the wound or hurt has been inflicted.


The ordinances heretofore published against night reveling at unseasonable hours and drinking to excess on the Sabbath shall be observed with more strict attention and care by the tavernkeepers and tapsters, to wit: they shall not admit or entertain any company in the evening after the ringing of the curfew-bell, nor sell or tap beer or liquor to any one, travelers or boarders alone excepted, on Sunday before three o'clock in the afternoon, when divine service is finished, under the penalty thereto provided by law.


Item. They shall be bound not to receive, directly or indirectly, into their houses or cellars any wines, beer or strong liquors before these are entered at the office of the receiver and a permit therefor has been received, under forfeit of their business and such beer or liquors and, in addition, a heavy fine at the discretion of the court.


Finally, all tavernkeepers and tapsters who are inclined to continue their business shall within the space of eight days after the publication and posting hereof send in and make known their names and addresses to the director and council and also solemnly promise before them punctually to observe in all its parts what is enacted, or may hereafter be enacted, on the subject of tapsters and tavernkeepers, and to conduct themselves decently in their business as good and faithful subjects, etc. Thus done In council, in Fort Amsterdam In New Nether land, the 10th of March A°. 1648.


Revised from Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, pp. 93-96.


Translation: Scott, K., & Stryker-Rodda, K. (Ed.). New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vol. 4, Council Minutes, 1638-1649 (A. Van Laer, Trans.). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1974.A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.